An ex-army and RAF servicewoman forced to quit due to a health battle has turned her hand to influencing to try to raise awareness of hidden illnesses.

Caroline Lewis, 28, was medically discharged from the military after six years of suffering an injury and then ill health.

What Caroline, from Cramlington, Northumberland, didn’t know was that the chest pains she was suffering were a sign of a blood clot in her lungs.

She said: “I served a total of six and a half years in the Army and RAF combined but I was unfortunately injured and diagnosed with spinal spondylosis.”

The Northern Echo: Caroline when she was in the forces.Caroline when she was in the forces. (Image: CAROLINELEWIS95/INSTAGRAM)

Caroline was a few years later diagnosed with a large-volume pulmonary embolism.

“I started getting chest pains and having what I thought was really bad flu and then I ended up going to the walk-in centre and they put me on a nebulizer because my oxygen levels were a little bit low,” she said.

“They were going to send me home with antibiotics. If it wasn’t for this nurse, just as she was about to discharge me, she asked me if they’d tested me for blood clots.

“They said to me your left lung is just filled with blood clots.”

“I had to stop going to the gym and adapt to my new way of living with its limitations and I found I’d lost a lot of self-confidence.”

After leaving the forces Caroline turned to swimsuit modelling, and is trying to raise awareness of hidden disabilities and ill health, and has now been shortlisted for ‘Top Micro Influencer’ and ‘Inspirational Influencer’ at the UK Top Influencer Awards.

The Northern Echo: Caroline is now an influencer who has been nominated for two awards.Caroline is now an influencer who has been nominated for two awards. (Image: PR)

The charity helpline worker added: “I was shocked to discover I had been shortlisted for the awards.

“I thought it was nice to be acknowledged amongst the top inspirational influencers in particular because I’ve been on quite a journey.”

After seeing an advert for Miss Swimsuit UK she decided to enter and came third in her first competition. She went on to the finals and then to compete at the Swimsuit USA World finals in Mexico.

“I became part of this community of modelling and influencing and used that to start promoting my journey and promote body confidence with my health too,” she said.

“I have recently been diagnosed with chronic thromboembolic disease, I use this to push me and encourage me to live my life to the full and help others.

The Northern Echo:

“We are in a day and age where people can use social media to create a false version of themselves but I want to try and keep being real on my social media and show that life isn’t always perfect and that’s ok too.”

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The influencer awards will take place at Northumbria University in Newcastle on Saturday (April 20), hosted by Love Island star Georgia Harrison.

Georgia said: “These awards demonstrate how influencers can be a force for good and I am very proud to be involved in the first UK Top Influencer Awards.

“I hope this will prove to be inspirational for people and encourage them to use social media in a kind and constructive way, to positively enhance and enrich their lives.”